Trump caves in to unions and military elites, ignoring the lessons passed on to us by America’s Founding Fathers.
President Donald Trump just lifted a ban on the transfer of military surplus equipment to local police departments that had been put in place by the Barack Obama administration.
While Obama’s action was far from sound, as he failed to address the root of the police militarization problem when he blocked armored vehicles and other heavy military grade equipment from being shipped to local police departments, Trump’s actions seem to, again, go against the core principle his campaign seemed to rely on. Instead of “making America great again” by going back to the principles championed by the Founding Fathers, Trump decided to cave in to the powerful within the military industrial complex and police union ranks using “public safety” as an excuse.
What he seems to miss, even as a self-styled “America First” president, is that when power is removed from the American communities and police departments are allowed to seek bribes from the federal government, it’s the small town American Joe who voted for him who hurts the most.
Police militarization has, over the years, become a prop for left-leaning activists. But much like with anything else many of them embrace as an issue, they often miss the mark, frequently attributing their problems to vague ideas of what police brutality is and asking for more federal government interference as a means to have the problem solved.
But without looking at the history of police militarization and what’s at stake, we cannot understand what needs to be done to address both the right’s fears revolving the growing power the federal government has over local policing and the left’s fears regarding police brutality.
History shows us that the lessons America’s Founders learned while under British rule helped them draft the U.S. Constitution with a Bill of Rights that enshrines the Castle Doctrine. With roots that can be traced to antiquity and more recently to British common law, the doctrine maintains that “a man’s home is his castle.” As such, the Third and Fourth Amendments were put in place to keep the suspicious sentiment our Founders nurtured against standing armies alive and to protect a person’s home or anything he occupies, shielding the proprietor from prosecution if he uses deadly force to protect his “castle.”
Most importantly, perhaps, is that the Founders knew the Roman Republic had been overthrown by power-thirsty military leaders.
Seeing members of the British army take over the homes of hard-working Americans during the American Revolution, the Founders remained suspicious of powerful military forces and yes, martial law, deciding to make sure the law of the land would thus serve as a reminder to future Americans that local policing works best if run my communities themselves — not an all mighty federal bureaucracy.
As incremental changes over the centuries continued to give the executive greater power and control over the lives of ordinary Americans across all states, something even greater went down in the 1960s, when President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed 19 people to run his Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA).
Tasked with changing the U.S. criminal justice system and “[streaming] the federal funding, equipment, and technology to state and local law enforcement agencies,” as author Radley Balko put it in the Rise of The Warrior Cop, the creation of LEAA would later serve as a precedent for programs such as the Pentagon’s 1033 program and the Byrne grants, helping the executive to, in a sense, bribe local police forces to adopt their policies.
In essence, this move, along with Johnson’s creation of the Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD), would also give President Richard Nixon the weapons he needed to launch a major war on drugs that would finally put an end to the Castle Doctrine protections enshrined in the Constitution by the Founders. In no time, federal rules restricting gun rights were being forced upon local law enforcement, as well as other rules concerning surveillance, no-knock raids, and confiscation of private property without due process.
As you can see, Trump could have looked at the ban on the transfer of military surplus equipment as a failure of the Obama administration, as the former president was incapable of addressing an issue that goes well beyond the current militarization problem.
With a powerful military industrial complex, or “deep state,” apparently calling the shots in Washington, D.C., and police unions lobbying the administration for weapons used by the U.S. military solely for wars, Trump is failing to cut the federal government’s influence with local police departments. As the Founders feared, standing armies are now, once again, allowed to flourish under him or any other president who follows. And with so much material to bribe local authorities with, there will be no department or sheriff’s office left when the feds come knocking, demanding their help on whatever new unconstitutional power grab they are after.
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